Stewart estimates last year's show had 5,500 paid visits and is hoping the weather will be good and enough people will be eager for a taste of spring that the show will get more than 6,000 paid visits this year.
The more paid visits there are, the greater the chance Stewart will be able to meet her other hope -- that this year's show will raise enough money to pay off the association's remaining debt on the $1.3 million cost of the college's amphitheater. The Alumni Association proposed the amphitheater project and the theater opened in 2000.
Learn a thing or two
Seminar topics at the flower and garden show include planting trees, pruning shrubs and trees, yoga in and out of the garden, healthy cooking using herbs, gardening for hummingbirds, and growing, picking and drying flowers.
· Dried flowers -- Rose Dillner will share ways to dry flowers. Dillner and her husband, Fred, own Carriage House at Blythstead, near Shippensburg, Pa. The couple grows and dries flowers, selling them to wholesalers; at craft, flower and garden shows; and directly to consumers by appointment at the shop at their home.
Hydrangeas, peonies, lemon mint, globe amaranth, yarrow, cockscomb, annual statice, German statice and strawflowers are among the flowers good for drying that the Dillners grow on about three acres, Rose Dillner said.
· Hummingbird gardens -- Annette Ipsan, horticulture educator for the cooperative extension, will discuss gardening for hummingbirds. In addition to eating small insects, hummingbirds transfer pollen from one flower to another.
Hummingbirds are attracted to plants with tubular flowers, which their long narrow bills can access to get to the nectar, Ipsan said. The tiny birds like plants with red or orange blooms, Ipsan said.
"They're fairly easy to attract. You don't have to have a hummingbird feeder. If you plant the right plants, they will find your yards," Ipsan said.
Ipsan will have a handout at the seminar that lists 50 plants hummingbirds like, including salvia, phlox, petunias, Mimosa trees, red buckeye trees, butterfly bush, rose of Sharon, trumpet creeper vines and honeysuckle.
While hummingbirds are attracted to any kind of honeysuckle, Ipsan recommends not growing Japanese white honeysuckle, which is an invasive species that nudges out native plants and can smother some shrubs.
To learn more about creating a wild backyard for hummingbirds as well as for butterflies and bees, go to www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/wahumbutbee.asp.
· Low-input lawn care -- Jeff Semler said some people want their lawns to be "natural," but also want it to look like a golf course.
"In actuality, a lawn should be a multispecies environment," Semler said. Dandelions and clover mixed in with the grass will feed bees. The nectar and honey from a dandelion might even feed a bee colony better than a pansy would, Semler said, because dandelions produce more flowers and pollen. The nectar becomes honey and the pollen is used to feed the colony.
During his seminar, Semler also will talk about fertilizing responsibly, letting grass grow long and maintaining your lawn with fewer chemicals.
Most grass species should be cut to three inches, though Semler prefers four. Cut the grass too short and you could starve the grass, denying it the sunlight longer blades can absorb and allowing plants of opportunity -- weeds and crab grass -- to take hold.
If you go ...
WHAT: 14th annual Flower & Garden Show, sponsored by Hagerstown Community College Alumni Association
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 15, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 16
WHERE: Athletic, Recreation and Community Center, Hagerstown Community College, off Robinwood Drive east of Hagerstown
COST: $4; free for ages 11 and younger
MORE: For more information, call the Alumni Association office at 301-790-2800, ext. 346, or go to www.hagerstowncc.edu/news/garden. The show is a fundraiser for the HCC Alumni Amphitheater.
Flower & Garden Show schedule
Saturday, March 15
9:30 a.m. -- "Tree Planting 101," Tim Evans, Family Tree Nursery 10:30 a.m. -- "Yoga in and out of the garden," Simone Heurich, Flowering Heart Yoga
11:30 a.m. -- "Healthy cooking with herbs," Madeline Wadja, Willow Pond Farm
12:30 p.m. -- "Low input lawn care," Jeff Semler, Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County